The Japanese Instrument of Surrender was the document that, in signing, ended World War II. It was signed September 2, 1945, on the deck of the United States battleship Missouri, on Tokyo Bay, in a formal ceremony.
The instrument was signed by representatives from the Empire of Japan, the United States of America, the Republic of China, the United Kingdom, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the Commonwealth of Australia, the Dominion of Canada, the Provisional Government of the French Republic, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and the Dominion of New Zealand.
The signing, which lasted twenty three minutes, was broadcasted around the world. The first to sign was the Japanese foreign minister Mamoru Shigemitsu "By Command and on behalf of the Emperor of Japan and the Japanese Government" and then General Yoshijiro Umezo "By Command and on behalf of the Japanese Imperial General Headquarters" at 9:04 a.m. Then, U.S. General Douglas MacArthur signed. After him Admiral Chester Nimitz signed for the United States, Hsu Yung-Ch'ang for the Republic of China, Bruce Fraser for the United Kingdom, Kuzma Derevyanko for the Soviet Union, General Sir Thomas Blamey for Australia, Colonel Lawrence Moore Cosgrave for Canada, General Philippe Leclerc de Hautecloque for France, Admiral C.E.L. Helfrich for the Netherlands, and Leonard M. Isitt for New Zealand.
On September 6, Colonel Bernard Theilen brought the instrument to Washington, D.C. and the following day presented it to President Harry S Truman in a formal White House ceremony. It was then exhibited in the National Archives.
The Text of the Instrument of Surrender
The document, which each signatory signed in his mother language, read as follows:
|“|| We, acting by command of and in behalf of the Emperor of Japan, the Japanese Government and the Japanese Imperial General Headquarters, hereby accept the provisions set forth in the declaration issued by the heads of the Governments of the United States, China and Great Britain on 26 July 1945, at Potsdam, and subsequently adhered to by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, which four powers are hereafter referred to as the Allied Powers.
We hereby proclaim the unconditional surrender to the Allied Powers of the Japanese Imperial General Headquarters and of all Japanese armed forces and all armed forces under Japanese control wherever situated.
We hereby command all Japanese forces wherever situated and the Japanese people to cease hostilities forthwith, to preserve and save from damage all ships, aircraft, and military and civil property and to comply with all requirements which may be imposed by the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers or by agencies of the Japanese Government at his direction.
We hereby command the Japanese Imperial General Headquarters to issue at once orders to the Commanders of all Japanese forces and all forces under Japanese control wherever situated to surrender unconditionally themselves and all forces under their control.
We hereby command all civil, military and naval officials to obey and enforce all proclamations, orders and directives deemed by the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers to be proper to effectuate this surrender and issued by him or under his authority and we direct all such officials to remain at their posts and to continue to perform their non-combatant duties unless specifically relieved by him or under his authority.
We hereby undertake for the Emperor, the Japanese Government and their successors to carry out the provisions of the Potsdam Declaration in good faith, and to issue whatever orders and take whatever action may be required by the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers or by any other designated representative of the Allied Powers for the purpose of giving effect to that Declaration.
We hereby command the Japanese Imperial Government and the Japanese Imperial General Headquarters at once to liberate all allied prisoners of war and civilian internees now under Japanese control and to provide for their protection, care, maintenance and immediate transportation to places as directed.
The authority of the Emperor and the Japanese Government to rule the state shall be subject to the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers who will take such steps as he deems proper to effectuate these terms of surrender.
Signed at TOKYO BAY, JAPAN at 0904 I on the SECOND day of SEPTEMBER 1945.
Accepted at TOKYO BAY, JAPAN at 0908 I on the SECOND day of SEPTEMBER, 1945, for the United States, Republic of China, United Kingdom and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and in the interests of the other United Nations at war with Japan.